TThe United States Supreme Court on Thursday granted Vermont’s request to review a lower court decision regarding VHCURES, Vermont’s all-payer health care database. VHCURES is an important repository of health care claims information, which Vermont uses to assess health care costs, access, and quality. The Green Mountain Care Board administers VHCURES and requires all health care payers (including private insurers and plan administrators) to provide de-identified claims data for this database.
Liberty Mutual Insurance Company filed a lawsuit in 2011, arguing that a federal law known as ERISA barred Vermont from collecting claims data from that company’s self-insured health plan. The federal district court rejected Liberty Mutual’s preemption argument, but a divided panel of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals reversed that decision last year. The Vermont Attorney General’s Office filed a petition seeking Supreme Court review on August 13, 2014. The U.S. Department of Justice filed a brief with the Supreme Court that disagreed with the court of appeals and argued that Vermont’s law is not preempted.
Attorney General Bill Sorrell praised the Court’s decision to review the case. “We are committed to defending Vermont’s authority to gather the information it needs to make sound decisions about health care policy. We are pleased that the federal government agrees that our law is not preempted, and look forward to arguing this case at the Supreme Court.” The Chair of the Green Mountain Care Board, Al Gobeille, emphasized the importance of VHCURES to the Board’s innovative efforts to control health care costs while improving the quality of care that Vermonters receive. “Health care policy should be grounded in good research and solid data. VHCURES is a critical tool for the Board and for Vermont as we make important decisions about the future of our health care system. I am very pleased that the Supreme Court will review this case.”
The case, Gobeille v. Liberty Mutual Ins. Co., No. 14-181, will likely be argued in late fall and decided before the Supreme Court’s next term ends in June 2016.
Vermont AG: Jun 29, 2015